Legendary Argentine coach Carlos Bianchi has no doubt about the talent of compatriot and Barcelona star Lionel Messi, affirming that he is already a better player than legends Diego Maradona and Pele.
The veteran trainer, currently out of football after brilliant spells at Boca Juniors and Velez Sarsfield, referred to Messi in his column for ESPN on Tuesday, two days after the 24-year-old's brace helped Barca to a Club World Cup victory over Santos for a fifth title of 2011.
According to Bianchi, Messi has already surpassed the two football icons, despite his lack of success in international colours.
"A few days ago I did a talk for a business and a Brazilian asked me in the middle of the conference who I considered the best footballer in history, Maradona or Pele. I answered that, with all due respect to those two, right now I see Messi as superior to everyone," the coach stated.
"There have been excellent footballers that weren't able to play in great national teams to prove their class. Moving on from everything that has happened or will happen when he puts on the Argentina jersey, Messi confirms every week that he is capable of doing things that nobody else has managed in the history of football."
Bianchi was equally effusive in his praise of Barcelona, whom he also considers as the best ever to take to a football pitch.
"The demonstration of collective football Barcelona showed to crush Santos gives me the confidence to put this sentence down on paper: we are in the presence of the best team in history," he concluded.
Bianchi is the most successful coach in the history of the Intercontinental Cup/Club World Cup. He has lifted the trophy three times, once with Velez and twice at Boca, while Barca coach Pep Guardiola can boast two successes in 2009 and 2011.